The Neptune National Centre for Sub-Sea and Offshore Engineering is the latest project to receive funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Catalyst Fund, which supports projects that promote economic growth and encourage private sector investment in higher education.
Hefce’s £3 million investment will be topped up by the university and local companies involved in offshore exploration. It will be built on the banks of the River Tyne, on the site of the former Swan Hunter shipyard.
The centre’s remit will be to develop new materials and technologies capable of withstanding the deep sea environment.
Unveiling the centre on 28 March, business secretary Vince Cable said the development of such materials would be key to the future of the UK’s economically “crucial” oil and gas sector, and would “drive up skills and develop the innovations needed to fuel growth in the North Sea”.
Project lead Nick Wright, pro vice-chancellor for research and innovation at Newcastle, said the centre would “significantly enhance” the UK’s research capacity in undersea engineering, and would provide “a focus for the development of both new technology and academic-industry relationships that underpin future growth”.
David Delpy, chief executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, said: “The work at the Neptune Centre will build on existing expertise and capability to achieve critical mass in areas the EPSRC has identified as strategically important to the UK: specifically, the need for fault-tolerant electronics and distributed computing in difficult and extreme environments.”